Saturday, March 6, 2010
Grilled Asparagus Salad
Asparagus season is upon us in Northern California. Asparagus is one of those vegetables I can't get enough of when it is in season. Fried, steamed, grilled, and baked--it's such a versatile vegetable. Although it is apparently a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins C and A, high in folic acid, and a natural detoxifier, I eat asparagus because I like its taste.
One of my favorite dishes is asparagus and beef with black bean sauce. When I stopped at vegetable stand a few days ago and picked up some beautiful looking asparagus tips, I was planning on making that dish. However, it turns out some of the women in my life have given up red meat for Lent. So I decided to make a salad instead.
The infused oil in this dish comes from Susanna Foo's Chinese Cuisine. The vinaigrette is something I came up with, thinking it would work particularly well with grilled asparagus. I intended to include some grilled radicchio in the salad, but I forgot. Even without the radicchio, it is a wonderful salad. The grilled red onion and peppers add a subtle sweetness to the salad.
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Black Bean Vinaigrette
Infused Sichuan Peppercorn Oil
1 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS roasted Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 garlic cloves
In a small saucepan heat the oil until very hot. Add the Sichuan pepper corns and the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes over high heat until the garlic browns, then turn off the heat. Make sure you don't allow the garlic to burn, as this will produce a bitter taste. Cool, strain out garlic and peppercorns, and store in a glass bottle.
2 lbs asparagus
2 to 3 red or yellow bell peppers
1 red onion
Roast peppers in a gas or charcoal grill until blackened. Put in bowl and cover with plastic. After 10 minutes or so, peel the peppers and cut into strips.
Toss the asparagus with several tablespoons of the infused oil. Grill over high heat for 3 to four minutes. Cut the grilled asparagus into 2-inch lengths.
Slice the red onion lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Hold the slices together by running wooden skewers through them. This makes them much easier to handle on the grill.
Black Bean Vinaigrette
1 TBS fermented black beans, soaked in one cup of water for two minutes to remove some of their salt, then drained
1/4 cup of the infused sichuan peppercorn oil
2 TBS black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tsp kecap manis
Mix the above ingredients in a jar. Shake well. Pour over the grilled vegetables and serve.